Transgender woman in pending SCOTUS case dies at 59
Aimee Stephens. Photo by Allison Shelley/The American Civil Liberties Union.
A transgender woman whose workplace bias case is before the U.S. Supreme Court died Tuesday at age 59.
Aimee Stephens died at her home in the Detroit Metropolitan area, according to a statement by the American Civil Liberties Union, which had represented her in the case.
Stephens said she was fired from her job as a funeral director for R.G. and G.R. Harris Funeral Homes in 2013 because she asked to be identified as a woman rather than a man. The case before the Supreme Court considers whether Stephens was protected by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits workplace bias “because of … sex.”
Stephens had argued that she would still have her job if she was a man, and that she was fired because of her sex.
She also claimed that she was fired based on sex stereotypes, and she should be protected under the Supreme Court case Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins.
The Trump administration filed an unusual brief for the respondent in favor of reversal. The defendant and the Trump administration argued that the employer would have fired both a transgender man and a transgender women, and, therefore, it is not discrimination based on sex.
Stephens’ death doesn’t make the Supreme Court case moot because her estate could still recover damages, legal experts told the Detroit News. An ACLU spokesperson told the New York Times that Stephens’ estate would move forward with the case.
A decision in Stephens’ case could come as soon as Thursday, the National Center for Transgender Equality told the New York Times.
“Aimee did not set out to be a hero and a trailblazer, but she is one, and our country owes her a debt of gratitude for her commitment to justice for all people and her dedication to our transgender community,” said one of her lawyers, Chase Strangio, who is the deputy director for trans justice with the ACLU’s LGBT & HIV Project, in a statement. “She has been an inspiration to millions around the world.”
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